Amazon’s first till-less store in the UK, which opened in west London just over two years ago, has been closed. The Amazon Fresh shop opened in Ealing Broadway in March 2021 and was the online giant’s first “just walk out” grocery store outside of the US. It permanently shut on Sunday along with two other Amazon Fresh stores, in Wandsworth and East Sheen.
I used it once, wasn’t that impressed. From a technological perspective, yes it was very clever and worked a treat. The system did exactly what is said it would do.
The main reasons I wasn’t impressed was that, partly I felt I couldn’t pick anything up to check labels, just in case the system didn’t “work”. The main reason was the variety and choice on offer. They did have a good range of stuff, but it wasn’t really stuff that I wanted to buy.
I received an email from Apple about My Photo Stream closing down.
My Photo Stream is scheduled to be shut down on 26 July, 2023. The photos in My Photo Stream are already stored on at least one of your devices, so as long as you have the device with your originals, you will not lose any photos as part of this process. If a photo you want is not already in your library on a particular iPhone, iPad or Mac, make sure you save it to your library on that device. For more information on this transition and instructions on how to download photos from My Photo Stream, read Information about the My Photo Stream shutdown.
I really liked My Photo Stream. It made my blogging and writing workflow so much easier. I would take a photo on my phone and then using My Photo Stream I would be able to use the photo on my iPad or my Mac.
Sometimes I would load photographs from my Canon DSLR onto my iMac, then be able to use those photographs on my MacBook.
Now according to Apple the solution is to move to iCloud Photos.
Moving forward, iCloud Photos is the best way to keep the photos and videos you take up to date across all your devices and safely stored in iCloud.
The main reason I’ve not done this before, is partly as My Photo Stream worked, and I would need to upgrade to iCloud+ and with the number of photos in my library, I would probably need the 2TB upgrade.
Well I have until the 26th June.
As part of this transition, new photo uploads to My Photo Stream from your devices will be stopped on 26 June.
Microsoft has retired its web browser Internet Explorer after 27 years
Internet Explorer’s popularity was dented by the launch of faster browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, as users seized on new applications to navigate platforms including Google Search, Facebook and YouTube. The rise of smartphones then arguably delivered the fatal blow, with Apple’s pre-installed Safari browser and Google Chrome on Android phones helping to shift internet access and usage into the mobile realm.
As a Mac user I remember the frustration of web sites being Internet Explorer only, which was compounded when I started using mobile devices.
I do like this animation of web browser usage over the years (you certainly see at one point the dominance of Internet Explorer).
Today, the experience of taking one’s music library out into the world has been integrated across Apple’s product line — from iPhone and Apple Watch to iPad and Mac.
I never had the first iPod which was announced in 2001.
The first iPod I got was the 4th version that could show photographs. I used it extensively for podcasts as well as music.
As part of a MoLeNET project at the college I was working at we got a range of iPod devices. We also used a range of 3rd edition iPod nano devices.
I used a 6th iPod Classic, on this I could add images and video, as well as music.
Later we got the iPod touch for the project, which was used for much more than music. I used that for apps, videos and web access.
However now I listen to music on my iPhone and through my Alexa devices. Most of the music I also listen to now is through streaming services, rather than download or rip from a CD.
I always liked the iPod and though technology has moved on, it was something for me that was highly innovative for its time. Though the concept of an mp3 player wasn’t innovative, the way that Apple interpreted the concept was innovative.
In 2021 I published 32 posts on the blog, this was less than in 2020 when I wrote 43 blog posts. Compared to 2019 when I wrote just 18.
In 2019 none of the top ten posts were written in 2019. This time six of the posts were published in 2020, three were published in 2021 and one was from 2015.
Number ten was from June 2020 when I wrote about our gas metre: How are we using gas overnight with our new smart meter? Having had a smart metre installed, I started to notice that we seemed to be using a fair amount of gas and electricity overnight! This made no sense, as we didn’t have the heating on, no hot water was running and the only electrical device running was the fridge!
The sixth most popular blog post was from December 2020, Ten Great Christmas Zoom and Teams Backgrounds. Using the excellent image sites, Unsplash and Pixabay, I put together ten festive images that could be used as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams meetings.
In July 2021, there I was opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder when I got this error message: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0. I couldn’t open any of my files on OneDrive. Having looked around for a solution and to be honest it wasn’t too much help. I did try and reset OneDrive but this didn’t work. I was convinced that this was a permissions issue rather than file corruption or data loss. The file sizes looked fine for example. In the end though I did come up with a solution which I wrote up as a blog post to help others: Solving the Sorry PowerPoint can’t read ^0 error and this was the fifth most popular blog post this year.
Having used the BBC backgrounds for a while and having some photographs when I visited The Harry Potter Studio Tour I decided to share some of the more suitable photos as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams and this was the fourth most popular post on the blog in 2020 and 2021: Harry Potter Teams and Zoom Backgrounds
In third place for the second year running was a post from May 2020, on how the amazing BBC Archive had posted a series of images of empty BBC Television sets across the years to be used as Zoom and Teams Backgrounds.
I used these quite frequently in my Zoom meetings.
Despite new posts and more traffic, the second most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling which has been my number one post for a few years now, so had dropped one place. It was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then. Of course the pandemic has seen more usage of QR codes across all aspects of life, from Track and Trace, to ordering food in restaurants.
Jump forward three years and following further work by BT Openreach I was able to upgrade to FTTP or as it was called Full Fibre resulting in a download speed of 1Gb/s, which was faster than the 30Mb/s I had with FTTC and significantly faster than the 1.3Mb/s ADSL connection we had when we first moved in.
I did think that was the end of the saga, well it was the end of the saga for me, the reality for Weston Village is that there is now a bundle of companies putting in fibre and cable connection. As a result there is a huge amount of roadworks and cable laying across the village.
This is as you might imagine making a mess of the roads and pavements.
So I am now also getting bombarded with pamphlets and advertising new fibre and television services.
So I really miss Google Reader and I also miss Flipboard which worked really well with Google Reader. I’ve not really found an alternative that works for me in the same way that combination did.
I do use Apple News, but really don’t see the point of paying £10 a month for access to what appears to me to be The Times and Newsweek!
My main issues with Apple News are:
Over positioning and pushing of Apple News+ stories in an attempt to get you to subscribe to Apple News. So much so that much of the feed appears to be Apple News+ stories that it almost becomes a pointless exercise scrolling through the app.
Another issue is that local news is ignored to the point that news from Weston-super-Mare for example can be weeks or even months old and no new stories. Part of the problem is that Apple News uses mainstream sources for news, which means local news often is sidelined.
My final complaint about Apple News and hence the title of the blog, is that there are buttons you can use to like and unlike stories, and you can block certain news sources as well. However blocking to me, means that you don’t see the news stories at all! Well for Apple News, blocking means still having the news in the feed, but just then placing right there in front of you.
I blocked the source because I didn’t want to see it, so don’t put it in front of me, ever!
I really should be looking at alternatives for Apple News, so what are you using for curating and collating the news?
The eighth most popular blog post on the blog was from December 2020, Ten Great Christmas Zoom and Teams Backgrounds. Using the excellent image sites, UNsplash and Pixabay, I put together ten festive images that could be used as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams meetings.
In May my Pogo Printer died and I wrote about this and this was the post at number seven in the top ten, dropping five places from number two last year. This was one of two posts that were in last year’s top ten,
In at number five on my top ten was some thoughts on working from home which I posted just before the March Covid-19 lockdown. I do a fair amount of remote working and location-independent working and am quite happy about doing this.
Of course the lockdown was a totally different experience to what I was use to. No chance to pop out for coffee or off to the office when I didn’t want to work from home.
Having used the BBC backgrounds for a while and having some photographs when I visited The Harry Potter Studio Tour I decided to share some of the more suitable photos as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams and this was the fourth most popular post on the blog.
Despite new posts and more traffic, the most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then.
BT came round yesterday and fitted FTTP or full fibre as BT likes to call it. It was quite a painless process, so much so that I didn’t actually notice that the FTTC connection had been turned off and the FTTP turned on, well I was in the midst of writing an e-mail at the time.
They had to upgrade the terminal outside, drill a hole through the wall and mount the modem and the Smart Hub near some power sockets.
Now we have a 1Gb connection, though the reality with WiFI is that the most I can get is about 500Mb/s, but that is still 25 times faster than what I had before!
The speed and quality of the WiFi signal is much better and is working well It will take a little time to settle in over the next few weeks so the speed will fluctuate up and down. Though for my first Teams call after installation it was working a treat.
Accessing streaming video and downloading files is so much faster, but the other main benefit is better quality WiFi across the house. Though the signal degrades as you move away from the Hub, 20% of 400Mb/s is much better than 20% of 30Mb/s for doing stuff.
I had to go around and reconnect everything to the new wireless network, the Apple devices were the easiest as I could share the password across my devices just by bringing them close to each other.
Where I could use WPS that meant I could connect the printer and some Windows machines. The hardest devices to connect to the new wireless network was the Amazon Alexa devices, but got those done in the end.